Crime rates down in year since pandemic

Police tape
credit Met Police

Report by Simon Allin, Local Democracy Reporter

Haringey saw “unprecedented” falls in crime during the coronavirus lockdown – but there are fears offending will rise again as restrictions are eased.

Total crime across the Metropolitan Police’s North Area Basic Command Unit, which covers both Haringey borough and neighbouring Enfield, dropped by 10% during the past 12 months.

Knife crime was down by 43%, while gun crime fell by 40%. There were also reductions in violence with injury, down by 12%, and robbery of personal property, which dropped by 48%.

A report presented to Haringey’s community safety partnership on Wednesday described the reductions as “unprecedented”. Sandeep Broca, the council’s community safety intelligence analysis manager, told the meeting: “We are seeing really quite significant reductions in the levels of criminality being noted in many of these crime types.”

But he added there had still been several serious incidents, including five murders in Haringey, during the pandemic.

“Around March, when the first lockdown of last year was in place, is when we saw some of the lowest levels of crime,” Sandeep said.

“However, each phase of lockdown lifting, we have seen crime bounce up once again – and particularly a spike around August and September of 2020. That’s when there were some significant lockdown restrictions lifted and also some quite good weather.

“The peaks and troughs generally do match up with when we have seen lockdown lifting taking place. So, over the next weeks and months, particularly up to 21st June, and with each stage of lockdown lifting, we may expect some of the crime types to bounce up once again.”

The crime report states that there are ongoing tensions between some of the established gangs in Tottenham, Wood Green and Enfield. It adds there is increasing use of skunk cannabis in terms of “illegal grows, street dealing activities and associated violence”.

The report also notes domestic abuse could be underreported – and there may be a surge in reported offences and victims as lockdown is lifted.

Joe Benmore, the council’s interim head of community safety and enforcement, admitted the 2020 figures were probably a “blip” but said there was a “real opportunity” for the community safety partnership to help prevent crime from going back to the “baseline average”.

Labour councillor Mark Blake, cabinet member for communities, said he feared the government would take away an uplift in welfare benefits, which would have an impact on poverty and crime levels.

He added that the council had identified a location for a youth hub in Wood Green and pledged to keep the group updated on progress with the project.

The community safety partnership agreed to set up a special “task and finish group” over the next week to ten days with the aim of preventing crime from rising as lockdown restrictions are eased.